I ran out for some groceries while the kids were having dinner with their dad tonight. While perusing the produce I spotted a prodigious head of garlic practically crying out for a good roasting, and so I brought it home and did just that. Dinner was much of the resultant goodness smeared on slices of wheat baguette, and while I enjoyed it very much, you probably don’t want me to breathe on you. Or near you.
The kids came home and Chickadee cocked her head to the side as soon as she entered the kitchen. She sniffed her way over to the stove, and beheld the leftover roasted garlic as well as the papery skeleton of the head. Then she peered at me with great concern and cupped my face in her hands.
“Mama,” she asked, “are you worried about vampires?”
When I laughed she continued to pat my cheeks, eyes twinkling, pleased that she’d amused me.
And the truth is that she really does amuse me, so much of the time. Heck, as much as I hate the various Incidents Which Shall Not Be Named wherein I fear for my daughter, fear for my ability to parent her, fear that life will never feel normal, after any such problem, my very favorite person comes to visit.
Her name is Lovely Chickadee.
It’s not that Chickadee ISN’T lovely in general, but my darling prickly pear is given to arguing, and complaining, and sulking. (I have no idea where she gets that from. Shut UP.) But after a Major Incident we get about a week of respite. She is repentant, yes, and that translates into greater compliance, greater eagerness to please. But I’m also starting to think that the relief of the sky not falling gives her a—however temporary—feeling of security that just plain cheers her up.
The last few days, she’s been mild and helpful and loving and FUN. She has not protested the work detail I’ve got her on, not really. She’s been on task at school and even relatively patient with her brother.
Today the phone ran shortly before lunch and it was the school guidance counselor. She was kind enough to preface her call with “Nothing’s wrong! Don’t worry!” (She knows how my mind works.) She then spent a good chunk of time telling me all about how Chickadee had lunch with her yesterday and talked and talked about our trip and how much fun she had. “It was the first time,” said the counselor to me, “that I sensed actual EXCITEMENT about the move. And more than that, I really felt a genuine affection for Otto, whereas she’s often avoided talking about him in the past.”
When she took a break to ask why I was laughing, I told her about the END of the trip and how Chickadee conveniently left that part out. But it’s true that everything had been pretty idyllic up to that point, and it’s nice to know that that’s what she’s focusing on.
“Well,” the counselor suggested, “maybe that was a test she needed to do, in her mind. She did something awful, and there were consequences, but Otto didn’t kill her. She’s getting it, that no one is going to stop loving her.”
(When she put it like that, it all made sense. I mean, I’d be pretty cheerful after I wasn’t murdered when I fully expected to be, I guess.)
Anyway, the guidance counselor is a gem and does not yet know that I fully plan to tuck her into my pocket before we leave for Georgia. Shhhh, do not tell. Where else am I going to find someone who has lunch individually with each of my kids once a week, working to get Chickadee talking about her feelings and then helping Monkey to manage his a bit better?
I expect that Lovely Chickadee may be gone after the weekend, but I have enjoyed her visit (as always). Tonight when she asked why I was giving her so many things to do, I reminded her that she belongs to me this week. “You’re my slave!” I quipped.
She paused with the load of stuff I’d just asked her to take upstairs. “Mama. It’s a FREE COUNTRY.”
“Not for YOU it isn’t,” I reminded her. “The Republic of Mama is a dictatorship where only the children who BEHAVE get to go live in a free country.”
Now, last week, and probably next week, that would/will elicit eyerolls and huffing and puffing, but today it just made her giggle and sail up the stairs calling “I clean toilets in the dictatorship!”
I wouldn’t recommend this particular method of obtaining a harmonious week (great transgressions lead to great weeks! try it today!), but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
And the toilets are nice and sparkly.